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August 29, 2006

Rumsfeld On Confusion
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:03 PM * 124 comments

In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration’s critics as suffering from “moral and intellectual confusion” about what threatens the nation’s security.

I’m not a bit confused.

Donnie, chum, you personally are one of the major threats to our nation’s security.

Comments on Rumsfeld On Confusion:
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Rumsfeld recalled a string of recent terrorist attacks, from the 9/11 attacks to bombings in Bali, London and Madrid, and said it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased.

The key sleight of hand is framing any oppostion to King George the Mad as "appeasment" to the terrorists. Rumsfeld is certainly no slouch when it comes to propaganda.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 06:31 PM:

I don't think Rumsfeld's words mean what he thinks they mean.

They certainly don't apply to the people he thinks they apply to.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 06:34 PM:

Here's what Harry Reid had to say about it:

Secretary Rumsfeld’s reckless comments show why America is not as safe as it can or should be five years after 9/11. The Bush White House is more interested in lashing out at its political enemies and distracting from its failures than it is in winning the War on Terror and in bringing an end to the war in Iraq. If there's one person who has failed to learn the lessons of history it's Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld ignored military experts when he rushed to war without enough troops, without sufficient body armor, and without a plan to succeed. Under this Administration's watch, terror attacks have increased, Iraq has fallen into civil war, and our military has been stretched thin. We have a choice to make today. Do we trust Secretary Rumsfeld to make the right decisions to keep us safe after he has been so consistently wrong since the start of the Iraq War? Or, do we change course in Iraq and put in place new leadership that will put the safety of the American people ahead of partisan games? For the sake of the safety of this country, it is time to make a change.
#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Donald Rumsfeld, serving up a big bowl of chickenshit:

"Donald Rumsfeld is still at the helm of the Department of Defense, which is absolutely outrageous. He served up our great military a huge bowl of chicken feces, and ever since then, our military and our country have been trying to turn this bowl into chicken salad. And it’s not working."

#5 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:05 PM:

What do we expect from someone employed by a man who told Brian Williams today that his reading habits are "ek-i-lek-tic" (and Brian, to his credit, didn't even chuckle)...

#6 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Thread-tie-in!

Pluto Demoted, But Not Rumsfeld
Scientists Baffled By Defense Secretary's Staying Power
Scientists who gathered in Prague last week to strip Pluto of its planet status said today that they were "baffled" that Pluto had been demoted but that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld still clung to his position of power.

Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke of the University of Tokyo was one of many scientists who favored the demotion of Pluto but thought that Secretary Rumsfeld should be stripped of his status as well.

"It seems counterintuitive to me that we should say Pluto is no longer a planet, yet Donald Rumsfeld is still Secretary of Defense," Dr. Kyosuke said. "After all, Pluto has done no harm."

Andy Borowitz has more.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:25 PM:

our masters are firm and decided
the weak ones are to be derided
and only a dope
would ever have hope
that our rulers could come divided

it was agreed heretofore
that the season was one for war
and only a wimp
or islamist symp
could the obvious facts ignore

saddam was in league with the devil
and osama now that's on the level
for to tell a lie
would cause george to die
or at any rate to dishevel

the war was not fought for oil
but to save all the sons of the soil
from an evil power
but after that hour
the whole middle east was aboil

now this may just be some bad luck
our troops in iraq now are stuck
between raw disease
and damned ieds
but rummy just doesn't give a fuck

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:37 PM:

Once upon a time there lived a silly President whose only worry in life was to help out his friends at the country club. He changed his mind almost every hour and loved to give speeches to the people.

Word of the President's simplicity spread over his country and beyond. Two scoundrels who had heard of the President's vacuity decided to take advantage of it. They introduced themselves at the gates of the White House with a scheme in mind.

"We are two very good policy makers, and after many years of research we have created an extraordinary policy so simple yet refined that it looks transparent. As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."

The guard at the gate heard the scoundrels' strange story and sent for the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff notified the Vice President, who ran to the President and disclosed the incredible news. The President's curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see the two scoundrels.

"Besides being invisible, Mr. President, this policy will be such that your re-election is guaranteed and your place in history is assured." The President gave the two men a stack of tax cuts in exchange for their promise to begin working on the policy immediately.

"Just tell us what you need to get started and we'll give it to you." The two scoundrels asked for the army, the raw intelligence feeds, and a free hand in the Middle East. Then they pretended to begin working. The President thought he had spent his political capital quite well: in addition to getting a new extraordinary policy, he would discover which politicians were ignorant and incompetent. A few days later, he called an old and wise general, who was considered by everyone as a man with common sense.

"Go and see how the work is proceeding," the President told him, "and come back to let me know."

The general was welcomed by the two scoundrels.

"We're almost finished, but we need a lot more no-bid contracts. Here, General! Admire the organization, observe the guaranteed outcome!" The old man bent over the desk and tried to see the policy that was not there. He felt cold sweat on his forehead.

"I can't see anything," he thought. "If I see nothing, that means I'm stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!" If the general admitted that he didn't see anything, he wouldn't be allowed to remain Secretary of State.

"What a marvelous policy, he said then. "I'll certainly tell the President." The two scoundrels rubbed their hands gleefully. They had almost made it. More troops were requested to finish the work.

Finally, the President received the announcement that the two advisors had come to provide all the laws needed to implement the new policy.

"Come in," the President ordered. Even as they entered, the two scoundrels pretended to be holding a large policy statement.

"Here it is, Mr. President, the result of our labor," the scoundrels said. "We have worked night and day and, at last, the most beautiful policy in the world is ready for you. Look at the mission statement and see how fine it is." Of course the President did not see any policy and could not make any sense of what they were saying. He panicked and felt like fainting. But luckily his office chair was right behind him and he sat down. But when he realized that no one could know that he did not see the policy, he felt better. Nobody could find out he was stupid and incompetent. The President didn't know that everybody else around him was thinking and doing the very same thing.

The farce continued as the two scoundrels had foreseen it. Once they had cooked the intel, the two leaked details of their policy to the press, but only in such an indirect way as to hint that it must be very complex and yet easy of execution.

"Mr. President, you'll have to repeal the Constitution in order to implement this new policy." The two scoundrels laid the policy before him, with a collection of Signing Statements for him to use. The President was embarrassed, but since none of his Cabinet said a word, he felt relieved.

"Yes, this is a beautiful policy and it suits our every need," the President said trying to look comfortable. "You've done a fine job."

"Mr. President," the Vice President said, "we have a request for you. The congress has found out about this extraordinary policy and they are anxious to hear you announce it." The President was doubtful showing himself without any rational policy to the congress, but then he abandoned his fears. After all, no one would think that he didn't have a policy except the ignorant and the incompetent.

"All right," he said. "I will explain the policy to congress." He summoned his limousine and went off to deliver the State of the Union message. A group of dignitaries walked at the very front of the procession and anxiously scrutinized the faces of the congressmen to see if anyone betrayed, by their expression, that they did not see the policy. All the Representatives and Senators had gathered in the Capitol. Applause welcomed the President's entrance. Everyone wanted to know how stupid or incompetent his or her neighbor was. As the President began to talk, a strange murmur rose from the crowd.

Everyone said, loud enough for the others to hear: "Look at the President's policy. It's beautiful!"

"What historic inevitability!"

"And the detail! The detail of that beautiful policy! I have never seen anything like it in my life!" They all tried to conceal their disappointment at not being able to see the policy, and since nobody was willing to admit his own stupidity and incompetence, they all behaved as the two scoundrels had predicted.

A left-wing hippie, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the newscasters.

"The President doesn't have a policy," he said.

"Fool!" the Fox News announcer reprimanded, cutting the mike. "Don't talk nonsense!" A policeman grabbed the hippie and took him away. But the hippie's remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried:

"The hippie is right! The President doesn't have a policy! It's true!"

The President realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He though it better to continue the speech under the illusion that anyone who didn't agree with his policy was either stupid or incompetent. And so he stood naked in front of the people, while behind him the Supreme Court held his imaginary power.

#9 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Nope, we shouldn't forget the past at all Mr. Rumsfeld. Why, if we did, we'd forget that you were Regan's envoy to the Middle East 83-84, and that one year after you sat down and talked with Saddam about how to prevent foreign nations from selling arms to Iran, the US sold arms to Iran through Israel (eventually leading to the Iran-Contra mess). But what did you care? You were busy bringing Nutrasweet to the world.

My head hurts.

#10 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:42 PM:

Projection, again. They're always projecting themselves onto the people they decide are their enemies.

#11 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:44 PM:

It gets better.

Here's the full text of his speech.

There are lots of highlights, but every time I read Rummy calling Guantanamo Bay "arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare," I collapse in a gigglefit and can't get to the end.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 07:44 PM:

All: Do go on, please.

#13 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 08:12 PM:

I am not confused about "what threatens the nation’s security." I just disagree with Mr. Rumsfeld's assessment.

How about 46 million of us with no health care, Donnie? Does that threaten the nation's security? I think it does.

From Forbes.com: "A record-setting 46.6 million Americans were without heath insurance in 2005, up from 45.3 million in 2004, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report."

Wanker. (Did I say that?) OMG.

#14 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 08:21 PM:

it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased.

It seems to me that the only people appeasing the terrorists are those who those who disrupt our infrastructure for them when their own efforts to do so fail. Oh, wait...

#15 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 08:53 PM:

We are truly fortunate to have a leader of resolve at a time of war.

who resolves to bury this country before the end of his presidency.

And, on a personal note, I commend the American Legion for its sponsorship of the Boy Scouts. I know there are some places where Boy Scouts are a subject of scorn.

Gak! Will he invoke mom and apple pie as being on his side?

Well, I was a proud Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout; then an Explorer Scout; an Eagle Scout; and, in 1975, a Distinguished Eagle Scout. The Scouts represent some of the best qualities in our great country -- and they certainly deserve our support!

OK, I now have one particular Boy Scout that I scorn.

Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace -- even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear.

to invade a sovereign nation for nonexistent WMD's? For nonexistent support of Al queda?


We need to face the following questions:

With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?

Can we truly afford to believe that anyone has actually suggested appeasement? I'd like to see some hard quotes that support this, otherwise I'll assume Donnie has been talking with his imaginary friends again.

Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

Can we really continue to think that peace can be achieved through a quagmire occupation of a nation based on false claims?

Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply “law enforcement” problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?

Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the separation of powers was created by the founding fathers to obstruct effective government? That basic human rights like right to life, freedom from torture, and rights to be protected from government abuse of power was little more than some prank pulled by the founding fathers on a dare?


And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world’s trouble?

And can we truly afford to return to the destuctive view that elected politicians are infallible? Are free from error? Are above shortsightedness? Are immune to mistakes?

The struggle we are in is too important -- the consequences too severe -- to have the luxury of returning to the old mentality of “Blame America First.”

Ah, see, no one is blaming America. They're blaming you. To take the political process that specifically requires criticism of government and turn that criticism of a politician/bureaucrat (you) and turn it into "hating america" is more likely a reflection of your own ego. i.e. You think you are "america".

They doctor photographs of casualties, use civilians as human shields and then provoke an outcry when civilians are accidentally killed in their midst.

Side note: really? Is there proof of doctored photographs of casualties? Or is this more of Donnie's "intelligence" that caused us to invade Iraq in the first place? Those pesky WMD's...

I ask that you never take advantage of the liberties guaranteed by the shedding of free blood, never take for granted the freedoms granted by our Constitution.

And by "freedoms" we mean the freedom to be surveiled upon by the government, to be held indefinitely without charges or trial, to be tortured, and to be free of criticism for your government.

I believe the question is not whether we can win. It is whether we have the will to persevere.

The next six months will be tough, but after that, it will get better.

#16 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 08:58 PM:

You got to give Donnie credit. He is a propaganda genius, which is to say he's a slimeball of truth. He's twisted so much stuff and wrapped it up in subjective symbols (America, Boy Scouts, God and Country, Liberty) that simple objective facts can't even be straightened out.

#17 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 09:00 PM:

The next six months will be tough, but after that, it will get better.

#18 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 09:00 PM:

I believe the question is not whether we can win. It is whether we have the will to persevere.

#19 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 09:01 PM:

The next six months will be tough, but after that, it will get better.

repeat as needed.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 10:18 PM:

Greg, you're making the "Recent Comments" list look scary.

#21 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 10:34 PM:

Tsk, Teresa, I already commented on Bush & the HOV lanes!

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007781.html#140323

#22 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Apparently Eagle Scout Don forgot all that "be prepared" stuff.

#23 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 10:58 PM:

I still wonder what qualifies him to tralk about morality.

#24 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 11:25 PM:
I still wonder what qualifies him to talk about morality.
Those that can, do. Those that can't, preach.
#25 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 11:28 PM:

On this topic, I like what Big Tent Democrat posted at TalkLeft: it looks like Rummy got none other than Eric "Otter" Stanton to write this speech

#26 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2006, 11:31 PM:

Give 'em hell, Harry. But for chrissakes, can't you come up with something a bit more pointed and pithy?

The Dems really need a good insult comic on staff.

#27 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:21 AM:

Once upon a time there lived a stupid President whose only worry in life was to help out his friends at the country club. He changed his mind almost every hour and loved to give speeches to the people....

That was a work of art. I love you!

#28 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:23 AM:

I am continually confounded that this administration wraps itself in the flag and calls itself America. Election controversies aside, how does winning HALF the vote of an huge nation lead to a claim that you define all of it?

I have the will to persevere. To the next election. And the one after that if need be. And the one after that. Don't be talking to me about perseverance.

#29 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 01:23 AM:

HALF the vote of an huge nation .... and in some countries, only a little more than half the eligible constitutency votes, so you can claim only a bit more than a quarter of 'the people' support you.

#30 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 01:31 AM:

I'm not at all confused. I know that I don't believe what I'm supposed to, which makes it impossible for me to swallow this Administration's pronouncements.

#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:13 AM:

The summary paragraphs from my post

Look, Don. You have shown yourself to be the worst kind of manager. You ignored advice from your more-experienced subordinates (General Shinseki), you refused to accept that there was a serious threat of insurgency in Iraq (dead-enders), you insisted that Abu Ghraib was carried out by "a few bad apples" when in fact it appears to have been approved policy emanating from your office, and you still don't recognize that you've been wrong on all the above-mentioned items. If you worked for Donald Trump he'd have fired you after the first round of The Apprentice.

Those of us who don't agree with you are not appeasers, we're just smarter than you are. When one of our ideas fails, we try something else. We don't insist on sticking with policies that have been shown to be counter-productive.
#32 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 04:38 AM:

Jon H at 22: Apparently Eagle Scout Don forgot all that "be prepared" stuff.

(respectful bow)

#33 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 08:24 AM:

Ah, Donnie. Say, who was it that said that we don't need to keep after Osama because he was "effectively neutralized"? I mean, that guy, what a wimp on terrorists. Truly somebody who doesn't have the guts that Donnie is talking about, somebody who doesn't have the (insert male body part description) to get the job done. They don't have this country's best interests in mind.

Get me Osama's head on a pike outisde the Pentagon, or a pirate's hanging on the Hudson facing Manhatten and then we'll talk about who is "weak" or "appeasing." Until then this admistration is still a bunch of hot air ballons.

#34 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:13 AM:

So is Rumsfeld saying that if we try to appease the terrorists then they will invade Poland? I didn’t realize that the terrorists had an army capable of that. I stupidly thought that they were a decentralized collective. I’m so glad he’s there to teach me these important history lessons.

#35 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:17 AM:

On second thought, "decentralized collective" is probably not an accurate term to describe terrorists. I can't seem to come up with a good simple description of them.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:17 AM:

#20, sorry, that was the end of another 10 hour day and a six pack of MtDew. My brain was getting a little addled. I would have deleted them if I could, but no button for that.

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:25 AM:

Whatever description you want for the terrorists, "fascist" probably isn't it.

Want to talk about historical ignorance? The new Bushite line about the terrorists being fascists (after its out-of-town tryouts in Right Wingnutistan) is pretty close to the definition.

In what important way is al Qaeda like the Nazi Party?

#38 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:40 AM:

In what important way is al Qaeda like the Nazi Party?

Ooh! I know this one! Is it "Both have mutually profitable connections with the Bush family"?

I didn’t realize that the terrorists had an army capable of that. I stupidly thought that they were a decentralized collective

Yes, they take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week. But all the decisions of the officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting, by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs --

- Be quiet!

Or by a two thirds majority in the case of more --

- Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

- Ooh, order. Who does he think he is?

- I am the President of the United States.

- Well, I didn't vote for you.

- You don't vote for Presidents.

- Well, how did you become President, then?

- The Supreme Court. (SOUNDTRACK- angelic choir) clad in majestically flowing black robes, decided by a five to four majority that I, George, was to carry Florida. (choir stops) That is why I am president!

- Listen, strange people in black dressing gowns are no basis for a system of government.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:43 AM:

CNN.com is polling this morning: 'Do you agree with describing the war on terror as a war on "fascism"?'

So far, it's 2 to 1 against. What was that you were saying, Donny?

#40 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 10:54 AM:

I wish I could come up with something more interesting than "Good grief!" "Oy vey!" "Aiee!" or "2008 is too far away."

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Speaking of Boy Scouts, Don's apparently forgotten the first point of the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy.


"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat."


"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that. "


"And within the last week or two, they have in fact captured and have in custody two of the mobile trailers that Secretary Powell talked about at the United Nations as being biological weapons laboratories. We have people who are telling that they worked in these vehicles. And they look at panels and say, "That was my work station in that panel, and that's what it's for."


"His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas."


"And he has biological and chemical weapons."


"We have seen . . . intelligence over--over months, over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they're weaponized . . . ."


"They are perfectly capable of being equipped with spraying and aerosol-type capabilities." [...] We know that Iraq has a number of so-called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, of different types, that they train with them and exercise them."

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:12 AM:

Marilee (21), you're right. Sorry about that.

#43 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:18 AM:

#39 P J Evans 'Do you agree with describing the war on terror as a war on "fascism"?'

At this point, I'd be more inclined to describe the war on terror as fascism in itself, but I suspect that CNN doesn't have a category for that.

#44 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Rummy got Eric "Otter" Stanton to write this speech

Ooohh, that's good stuff. I've got to bookmark that speech and pull it out everytime some flag-draped asshole says that criticizing him is criticizing this whole country.

#45 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:23 AM:

It's just exactly this use of the term fascist that has me furious. America is not fighting fascism. It's implementing it.

Where the Nazi's were blaming everything in pre-war Germany on the jews, this administration blames it on terrorists and those who oppose any action the administration takes.

But I think we all know who the fascists here are.

#46 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:31 AM:

Look, look! I'm being oppressed.

Now you see the violence inherent in the system...

#47 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:32 AM:

James D. Macdonald, I could make the comparison between Fascism/Nationalism and Jihadis wanting to bring the Califate back into existence. But it’s long winded and involves charts and some very large logic jumps. I have two better explanations for the use of Facism. One is that Islamofascist polls better than Terrorists when asking the question, “Are you willing to destroy your economy and sacrifice your children to fight a war against...” Two, NeoCons tend to be very jealous of the Greatest Generation and their “Good War” against the Nazis so they will do anything to make this war seem equal to that effort.

#48 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:50 AM:

CNN has weighed in on the rise of “fascism” (in speeches by Republicans): The new GOP buzzword: Fascism

While "fascism" once referred to the rigid nationalistic one-party dictatorship first instituted in Italy, it has "been used very loosely in all kinds of ways for a long time," said Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Typically, the Bush administration finds its vocabulary someplace in the middle ground of popular culture. It seems to me that they're trying to find something that resonates, without any effort to really define what they mean," Fields said.

[…]

Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group and they found the word `fascist.'

"Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you're going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can," Wayne said.

After all, the hard-line Iranian newspaper Jomhuri Eskami did just that in an editorial last week blasting Bush's "Islamic fascism" phrase. It called Bush a "21st century Hitler" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "21st century Mussolini."

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:05 PM:

I still wonder what qualifies him to tralk about morality.

If you're a FarScape fan, that's a Freudian slip! ('Tralk' is FarScape slang for 'slut'.)

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:09 PM:

It's pretty clear that "fascist" = "people we don't like" and that it polled well in the focus groups.

Never mind the historical Fascists.

You want to get a bunch of historical ignoramuses together, the first one you want to invite is Bill O'Reilly, and the next two on the guest list are George Bush and Don Rumsfeld.

#51 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:14 PM:

What bothers me most is that political discourse has descended to the point that it doesn’t matter if what is said makes any sense so long as it polls well. It reminds me of those books Chip Kidd was angry about that were putting pictures of cute dogs on the covers even though the books had nothing at all to do with dogs. It’s pure manipulation by stimulating emotional reactions.

#52 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 12:42 PM:

NeoCons tend to be very jealous of the Greatest Generation and their “Good War” against the Nazis so they will do anything to make this war seem equal to that effort.

Yeah. Screw them. My dad was a member of that generation; he fought in that "good" war. He never ever talked about it. He did what he perceived to be his duty for four years, returned to his wife, and quietly got on with his life. He was a staunch liberal and had he lived to encounter these cowardly war-is-fun-as-long-as-someone -else-gets-to-fight-it theorists he would have been quietly, grimly contemptuous of their theories and the clusterfuck in Iraq which Donnie Rumsfeld so gleefully defends. And the way the soldiers are being treated (poor equipment, too many tours of duty) and the employment of mercenaries, to say nothing of shit like Abu Ghraib, would have made him quietly, blazingly angry.

I am not quiet.

#53 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 01:32 PM:

The last true thing Rumsfeld said, about three weeks after things went to hell in Fallujah (that is, the first time things went to hell in Fallujah) was "We don't know how long it will take. We don't know what it will cost."

Everything he's said since has been a vain attempt to cover up the implications of that unforseen outbreak of honesty.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 01:32 PM:

It makes me even madder that they've got the soldiers believing some of their bullshit. I just read a blog post by one who was saying that "support the troops, not the war" is nonsense, because the troops are fighting the war!

He (a friend of a friend, not a political put-up AFAICT) went on to say that we're winning the war there, and that quitting would just be stupid.

I responded at some length, saying that I think the troops are doing a fine job (despite the aberrations of a few, and command-structure travesties like Abu Ghraib), and that I admire them for what they've accomplished, and that that's part of why I'm so angry at the botchup that this war has proved to be, and even more at how the troops have been treated.

I also pointed out that even if we're not exactly losing, I don't think we can win fast enough with our resources dwindling away.

Finally I asked if he believes I support the war (because I don't think we can honorably or strategically abandon Iraq now) or if he believes I don't support the troops (because I think the war was a bad idea etc.) or if my nuanced view puts me somewhere in the middle in his opinion.

I haven't heard back, but then I'm pretty sure he's in Iraq at the moment.

#55 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 01:57 PM:

So the folks who think invading Iraq is wrong are all appeasers of fascists...like Neville Chamberlain, who met with Hitler before the war. After all, Donald Rumsfeld would never have met with Saddam Hussein before the war, right? Right?

As for more Nazi comparisons, I was recently in a bookstore and saw a right-wing "how to disarm those stupid liberals and their arguments" book. Under the 9/11 category, their response to "Iraq didn't attack us on 9/11" is "Germany didn't attack Pearl Harbor."

Really.

Of course, I don't remember Iraq declaring war on us after we invaded Afghanistan, but the little minor detail of the German declaration of war? Totally ignored, of course, because that might point out the incredible sophistry of the attempted parallel.

#56 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Of course, I don't remember Iraq declaring war on us after we invaded Afghanistan, but the little minor detail of the German declaration of war? Totally ignored, of course, because that might point out the incredible sophistry of the attempted parallel.

Of course, the average American born since the end of WW2 (most of us, that is) wouldn't know about Germany's declaration of war, unless they had a much more organized and comprehensive public school history curriculum than is common, or a dedication to the History Channel.


#57 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:24 PM:

An Illustrated Guide to Fascism.

For when you really need a sledgehammer.

#58 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:29 PM:

In re the "Who's On Fascist?" routine, a useful spotter's guide remains 14 Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, by Umberto Eco.

#59 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:39 PM:

Rumsfeld: Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply “law enforcement” problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?

Me: If terrorists are such big bad wolves, how come the FBI deals with the domestic versions just fine? What makes the foreign ones so special?

Other than the fact they're foreign, of course.

*goes back to hiding under her rock*

#60 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:49 PM:

... it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased.

Rummy is totally truthful in this sentence.

It's just that when you say "terrorist", most people look in the wrong direction.

Xopher: if the soldiers didn't believe this bullshit, they wouldn't be motivated to fight. Therefore a very expensive psyops program has as its sole purpose the job of convincing the soldiers to believe this bullshit. See also "Why we fight", "The Triumph of the Will", and just about any other piece of wartime propaganda in history. The only difference this time is that there are uncontrolled back-channels through which the other side of the story leaks out. See also "Project Censored" ....

(NB: I agree it's outrageous. But I'm not in a position to hold the bastards to account. Maybe after November?)

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Speaking of WWII, let us consider that five of the six battleships Oldendorf used to turn back the Japanese at Surigao Strait were "mission kills" the Japanese had counted as having been destroyed at Pearl Harbor. They'd subsequently been hauled up out of the mud and returned to duty.

"Mission kills" are useless.

#62 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 02:59 PM:

I have a change in terminology to propose. It's traditional, I know, to call a horrendously difficult war situation a "quagmire." But a quagmire is "a soft marshy area of land that gives way when walked on." There are several ways in which this is a poor metaphor for Iraq, but I'm not so much objecting to 'quagmire' as proposing something better.

I say we call it the Tar Pit.

It looks easy when you first approach it; once you're in, you're stuck; your efforts to extricate yourself simply stick you in even more; whatever you do (unless you get outside help), the inevitable conclusion is that your unpleasant death.

It also fits in nicely with it being an oil-rich country and area, and with the troop slang for it being "the Sandbox."

What do you think?

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 03:01 PM:

An extra 'that' in my antepenultimate paragraph. Damns.

#64 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 04:58 PM:

if the soldiers didn't believe this bullshit, they wouldn't be motivated to fight.

Not all military personel believe this bullshit. I'd rather not see comments about people in our armed forced made without quantifiers such as "some" or similar verbage that avoids making blanket statements.

(de-soaps)

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Click on the 'i' of the old american century sidelight for more info.

#66 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Speaking of WWII, let us consider that five of the six battleships Oldendorf used to turn back the Japanese at Surigao Strait

(I suppose I that's my cue to chime in, but I have nothing to add to the discussion, except to note that I'm not surprised that TNH knows history in this much detail.)

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 05:37 PM:

Yopu know, 66 years ago the hard, rational, truth was that a German attempt to invade the UK would have been a military disaster for Germany, and that knowledge was what lay behind Churchill's rhetoric. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty before he became Prime Minister, repeating his role in the First World War, and he'd the experience of Gallipoli and Norway/ He knew how hard it was both to land troops on a hostile shore, and to stop the Royal Navy.

Which didn't make the Battle of Britain irrelevant. There was still the fear of the effects of bombing on the civilian population. That was the unfamiliar part of war, and there was afear of the unknown.

It wasn't even, necessarily, a fear that the RAF couldn't defeat the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe was taking on the world's only integrated air defence environment, combining the tracking of the enemy (not just radar), with the command and control systems to bring the defending fighters into the attack. But could the Luftwaffe be stopped before their bombing broke civilian morale?

Compare that with the War on Terror. Most obvious, people such as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, the analogues of such as Churchill, Beaverbrook, and Dowding, don't know what they are doing. They don't have the experience and they don't listen to the professionals. They're fighting a war, and funneling huge profits to their corporate buddies: are they even managing to replace the munitions consumed?

In 1940, Britain was building fighter aircraft faster than the Luftwaffe could shoot them down. The shortage was of pilots.

Did anybody accuse the war profiteers of the past of not supplying weapons?

And even 9/11 was, compared to the Blitz, a pretty limited attack. Nobody in New York was spending night after night listening to the bombers and the bombs, and wondering if they would be alive in the morning.

Instead, it's almost as if the people trying to break our morale are our own governments.

And, unlike the bomber, there's no sense of there being brave men risking their lives to defend us. The people who are risking their lives are in a distant land, of which we know nothing. And the terrorists are springing up, as if dragon's teeth were sown in High Wycombe, in our midst. They don't have to travel to their battlefield.

And, unlike RAF Fighter Command, our defenders are too familiar. They're cops, the same people who run speed traps, not some dashing young men pushing advanced technology to the limit.

And just what police vehicle can have the romance of the Supermarine Spitfire? What is there that can match the sound of a Merlin. That's the sound of freedom, not some tricked out General Electric contraption that gets used in a plane that bombs wedding parties.

So that's what we have: a pale shadow of the giants of the past, facing an enemy who could, maybe, invade Luxembourg during half-day closing.

If Sharon at the hairdressers was on holiday in Benidorm.


#68 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 06:21 PM:

The terrorists are just Mafia guys burning down restaurants that didn't pay protection.

The FBI knows how to (and has sucessfully) handled the Mob. Standard policework is what will handle the terrorists.

(No one spoke of "appeasing La Cosa Nostra" because we didn't invade Sicily*, either. What's Rumsfeld smoking?)

*At least not since the genuine Fascists were in charge.

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Dave Bell: Comparing W to Winnie is like comparing pond scum to an oak. They're both plants. And the analogy stops right there. For all his faults (and he had an abundance of them), Churchill led in war with the survival of his homeland (mine, come to think of it) at stake. The only stake W seems to have is his stock portfolion.

#70 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 09:00 PM:

Further to James in #68: there's also the oft-made observation that the RAF never made any airstrikes on South Boston, even when the IRA was blowing up downtown Manchester or lobbing mortar rounds at Heathrow.

#71 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 09:04 PM:

Dave Bell (#66) is correct: a hard-headed and rational assessment of the military prospects of a German cross-channel invasion certainly would show pretty dim prospects for success. But then again, so would a hard-headed and rational assessment of the military prospects for a German invasion of France, before it actually happened. The pre-war consensus was that France had a better army, and prospects for a German invasion were nil. (This consensus extended to the German military leadership, which considered a coup when Hitler ordered the invasion over their objections). And yet France folded in four weeks.

One might argue about the reasons for that --- recent scholarship (e.g. Strange Victory by Ernest May) attributes the failure more to fatal mistakes by the French leadership than to insufficient military resources, inferior technology (1939-era Panzers were no match for the French heavy Char B) or to any particular German innovation. But the British had no way of knowing that at the time. And so the bottom line is that the Battle of Britain took place after a sudden and overwhelming victory by the Germans over what was generally felt, before the war, to be a much superior force. That had to weigh on the minds of the British public --- and perhaps the leadership as well.

#72 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 09:44 PM:

Most basic rule imaginable, the one Sun Tzu didn't feel any need to write down it was so obvious -- you only need to lose once.

The guys in charge of both sides of Hitler's war knew that, because they'd been variously shot at, held responsible for real authority, and otherwise educated. In consequence, they were concerned with the rule Sun Tzu did write down, that you must first secure yourself from defeat before seeking to defeat your enemy.

The problem with any myth of invincibility is that it's wrong; the more people who believe, the greater the degree to which it is wrong. Wars are won by people who are troubled in their rest by all the ways the other fellow might win. Lose that, and you will lose.

Combine a myth of invincibility with a political authority fundamentally concerned with evading responsibility, offloading risk, and just generally guaranteeing their own benefit, and the probable magnitude of defeat gets into "unrecoverable loss of choice space".

Which, of course, it already has. The questions now are mostly "how far?" and "in how many pieces?"

#73 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 09:58 PM:

Xopher: tar pit. I like it. Also, I used to feel proud to know the meaning of the word "penultimate". "Antepenultimate". Wow.

Rumsfeld has to be desperate to salvage something out of this, for the sake of history. Otherwise, he'll be reviled as are few notable Americans of the past 200 years.

Fwiw, back in May I attended a two-day symposium at the National Defense University in DC titled "The Future Nuclear Landscape: New Realities, New Responses." Many people from various gov't agencies spoke, as did people from many think-tanks. I had no idea there were so many think-tanks. The Scowcroft Group? The Cohen Group? Anyway... nobody pointed any fingers or laid any blame, but several speakers opined that the way the Iraq war has played out will harm non-proliferation efforts for many years to come. The Iraq war was referred to as an albatross. If this isn't harming national security, I don't know what is. Considering the many and distinguished speakers who expressed this opinion (and no one rose to take exception), Rumsfeld has to know that this war has been disastrous for global nuclear non-proliferation and history won't forget his role in it.

#74 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:26 PM:

Juan Cole reposted a rant on appeasment that I thought was very well done. To a certain class of right-winger, it is perpetually 1939 and every leader opposed to the US is Hitler. I even saw a semi-pro commenter on Glenn Greenwald's blog compare Pakistan to Nazi Germany during WWII.

It truly boggles the mind to be lectured about moral confusion by a man who shook Saddam Hussein's hand.

#75 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:36 PM:

Mary (73), it's traditional in DC that when men leave Congress, they either start a think tank or join a fancy law office. The women usually go into non-profit work.

#76 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:52 PM:

Xopher: "Tar pit" is indeed the perfect description, and I intend to start using it forthwith.

And have some Madeira, m'dear! :-)

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 11:58 PM:

mary, thanks. And you learn words like 'antepenultimate' when you're doing stress analysis in linguistics.

Lee, thanks. Don't mind if I do!

#78 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 12:37 AM:

From Bruce Schneier's: initial comments on the British terrorists --

* There was some serious cash flow from someone, presumably someone abroad.
* There was no imminent threat.
* However, the threat was real. And it seems pretty clear that it would have bypassed all existing airport security systems.
* The conspirators were radicalized by the war in Iraq, although it is impossible to say whether they would have been otherwise radicalized without it.
* They were caught through police work, not through any broad surveillance, and were under surveillance for more than a year.

He remarks upon the second item; I find myself most focussed on the item which I have marked in boldface. We -- no, you -- are making terrorists, Donnie.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:14 AM:

Dave #67

Nobody in New York was spending night after night listening to the bombers and the bombs, and wondering if they would be alive in the morning.

As you know, Dave, many of the people who survived the Blitz are still participating in the British social and political discourse. I'm hearing a lot of family histories retold and explained. My best friend from university, whose mother's house was bombed to rubble while they were all in it, was telling me the whole story for the first time.

It changes the tone of the discussion, I think. Clamps down on the rhetoric. No one over here is using the word fascist about these people, not in mainstream political discourse. Europeans remember the real fascists, of whom these people are but pale shadows.

As was said after 7/7, Britain has survived bombing by "a better class of bastard."

Rumsfeld's coin rings very false when you listen to the old timers.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:51 AM:

Keith Olbermann got a tad annoyed with Rummy's speech, and said so here. Video is there (Countdown) or at Crooks and Liars.

Opening paragraphs:

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.
#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Q. If Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzales were in a rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic, and the boat sprang a leak, who would be saved?

A. The American people.

#82 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 10:38 AM:

She was young! She was pure! She was new! She was nice!
She was fair! She was sweet seventeen!
He was old! He was vile, and no stranger to vice!
He was base, he was bad, he was mean!
He had slyly inveighled her up to his flat,
To see his collection of stamps,
And he said, as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, the cigars, and the lamps...

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 12:31 PM:

Headline in the center column on CNN.com:
Bush 3.0 releases patch for Iraq war

Say what?

#84 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Yep, that's the headline. Looks like Bush is flip-flopping again (like a gaffed fish).

The headline links to this story: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/08/31/bush.terrorism/index.html

In that story we read:

Bush also said his most important duty is to protect Americans from further attacks, stressing the way to do so is to "defeat the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."

No. Wrong. His most important duty is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 12:45 PM:

His most important duty is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Doing that would mean he'd have to admit he's been wrong.

Permission to call him a marron?

#86 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 12:58 PM:

You're not imagining it, P J.

From midway through the linked article:

Bush 3.0?

Bush's speeches on Iraq and terrorism are slated to run through a September 19 address before the U.N. General Assembly, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Wednesday.

The series, Perino said, "will put the violence that Americans are seeing on their TV screens and reading in their papers into a larger context."

"He will acknowledge that these are unsettling times in Iraq, in Lebanon, and also the unsettling news about the foiled terror plot out of London," she said. "The key is that all of this violence and all of the threats are part of one single ideological struggle, a struggle between the forces of freedom and moderation, and the forces of tyranny and extremism."

This will be Bush's third major speaking campaign aimed at bolstering support for the war in Iraq -- which the recent CNN poll found to be at a new low. Though his latest effort starts less than three months before November's congressional elections, Bush said his speeches won't be "political."

(Emphasis mine. Hoping that wasn't too much to quote all in one place... any less and the reference, such as one is, would be missed.)

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 01:08 PM:

Though his latest effort starts less than three months before November's congressional elections, Bush said his speeches won't be "political."

Yeah, right, 'non-political'. @#$^&*() pile of crsp!

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Bush's speeches on Iraq and terrorism are slated to run through a September 19 address before the U.N. General Assembly...

Hmmm... Isn't Sept 19 also known as Talk-like-a-Pirate Day?

#89 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Is Rumsfeld a disingenuous, amoral scumbag?
[karate chop] Sure! [/chop]

Would he say anything, anything at all to divert attention from what a tragic, useless mess the Iraq war has turned out to be?
[steely squint] Well, of course! [/squint]

Should we believe a word he says?
[theatrical shrug] Goodness gracious me! That's absurd! [/shrug]

#90 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:25 PM:

A pertinent comment from Matthew Yglesias at Talking Points Memo. Go to the website for links.

Talk of a unified Qaeda/Iran/Hezbollah/Syria menace is nonsense as a casual scan of actual Sunni jihadist views will make clear. As Fred Kaplan notes, if Churchill and FDR had operated with the Bush mentality, "they might not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union (out of a refusal to negotiate with evil Communists), and they might have therefore lost the war."

It's worse than that, though -- they might have proposed attacking the Soviet Union in the middle of the war because Bolshevism and Nazism were both species of Eurofascism.

#91 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:50 PM:

It's worse than that, though -- they might have proposed attacking the Soviet Union in the middle of the war because Bolshevism and Nazism were both species of Eurofascism.

And they might also have bombed the Panama Canal because Arnulfo Arias was a fascist. And opened a fourth front in Spain while they were at it.

#92 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 02:50 PM:

Oh, shoot. Someone at CNN lost their sense of humor and changed the front-page call-out headline to Bush: U.S. in fight against single, terrorist network.

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 03:10 PM:

The trouble is that there isn't a single terrorist network. How's that supposed to work?

Meanwhile:

Bruce Schneier:


They were caught through police work, not through any broad surveillance, and were under surveillance for more than a year.

Donnie Rumsfeld:

Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?

Well, Don, it looks like the answer is in, and the law enforcement solution is the one that works.

That isn't a luxury: it's a fact proved by the experimental method. What do you have to show for your "fundamentally different" approach?

#94 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:14 PM:

Given the sorts of things Bush is saying in his speeches about Iran threats, nukes, etc; how likely is it that he will decide to attack Iran before the November election? Any guesses?

#95 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:24 PM:

I was reading a book of military mistakes last night, and I happened on the following, about the blackout measures taken in Britain during the Phoney War (after the invasion of Poland, but before France):

The first casualty of the aerial war was a martyr to the struggle for perfect blackness. In London's Harley Street a young policeman fell 80 feet to his death after climbing up a drainpipe to try to reach a window from which a light was shining. In other parts of the country the police took more direct action, shooting the bulbs from any lights that had been left on in error. Offenders were brought before magistrates for a mandatory fine, [..]

Sometimes blackout offences seemed to have an altogether darker side, at least in the spy-clouded minds of the general population. Was the man 'puffing hard to make a big light' on his cigar really signalling to German planes as was suggested by one zealot? After all, Londoners had been advised by one WWI pilot not to gather together in crowds and gaze up at the heavens. He warned that , 'The white blobs of numerous upturned faces can be seen from an airplane at a considerable height and form a good and tempting target.' With that kind of advice it is hardly surprising that magistrates fined a man who struck matches in the street to try to find his false teeth, and the keeper of an aquarium who failed to screen the tiny heating lamp in his fish tank. Fear of the German bomber was producing bureaucratic 'over-kill'.

I'm posting here because of the WWII link, obviously, but what it really reminds me of is the ridiculous results of the phoney war on terror: The Great Exploding Shampoo Plot, The Serviette of Doom and the Deadly Blue-Stained iPod.

#96 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:32 PM:

Linkmeister: I missed your comment on Keith Olbermann, but I caught the video of Keith Olbermann quoting Murrow on the Blurbomat and was wowed by his piece.

Also, I'm pleased to note the strains of dissension arising from Salt Lake City. Rocky Anderson, mayor of SLC, spoke recently at an anti-war rally. Being in Utah, one of the most secure Republican strongholds, that takes a lot of guts, I'd think.

#97 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:33 PM:

I think the timeline is too short to produce a war by November, Lizzy. Sanctions are only now being imposed (unless the UN votes otherwise). It takes time for sanctions to bite, even Bushistas know that.

Of course, they might be trying to finagle the UN into not supporting sanctions so that they can talk up military action, but even so, I can't see them managing an invasion and an election in only three months. Even if they think the US Army can roll over the Iranians like they did over the Iraqis... nah, they couldn't be that dumb, could they?

#98 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 08:47 PM:

It is possible that the UN will not vote for sanctions; it's also possible that whatever the UN votes for (sanctions, inadequate sanctions, whatever) will provide a useful pretext for Bush's bombs. I think Bush has "decided" that Iran is to blame for the current state of things in Iraq, and that the only way for us/him to "win" in Iraq is to destroy Iran's influence. He also, I think, believes that Iran's nuclear ambitions can only be contained with military action.

If Rove decides that the Republicans are going to lose both houses of Congresses, I would not be surprised to see a wider war before November.

#99 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 09:12 PM:

NelC --

Name one instance when "they couldn't be that dumb" has turned out to be correct about the present US administration.

#100 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 10:23 PM:

Lizzie L #98: I suspect we'll see it whichever way the polls go; on the one hand, if the Dems win one or both houses, bringing them home will waste their valuable time, and if not, it's business as usual for the Crooks In Chief. It might not happen by October, but I'd bet on it.

As for Rumsfeld, perhaps he should stick to bawdy SCA ballads. At least he's apparently good at those.

#101 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 10:26 PM:

Or maybe not. I suspect that link is a joke; if so, it's a good one.

#102 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2006, 11:51 PM:

My own #98 -- Congresses -- should have been Congress, of course.

This drumbeat in the speeches comparing the current "threat" to WWII astonishes me, and reminds me again that these people not only have no sense of history, but that they assume none of the rest of us do.

If this situation is so much like WWII, how come Mr. Bush and friends aren't talking about a draft? Or do they plan to outsource this world war to mercenaries?

#103 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 08:34 AM:

Re #100 and #101. At least one part of the story is demonstrably false; there's no one named Donald Rumsfeld on the SCA's Board. Also BoD terms are three and a half years, so he can't have been on it since 1992. And, last but not least, there's no one named "Wilhelm von Steublen" registered, and if he's a Laurel it's a cinch bet his name would be registered. So, I'm thinking joke.

#104 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 09:06 AM:

Carrie: That was more or less what I found myself, about thirty seconds after clicking "Post". So I kicked myself for not fact-checking first, and laughed at having been had, in a s/a/n/i/t/a/r/y/ w/a/y/ b/y/ T/u/r/n/p/i/k/e/ T/o/m/ good way.

#105 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 12:18 PM:

Glenn Greenwald has a post on has the glorious history of using Neville Chamberlain in arguments, including Rumsfeld's use of it in 1979 (protesting the SALT treaty) and its use against Johnson, Kennedy, and Reagan.

Apparently it's been permanently 1939 longer than I thought. And it's been September on the Internet since about 1993... I guess once the day freezes, the hour is next?

#106 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Lizzy #94 and subsequent discussion: Even if the UN imposes sanctions on Iran, Iran won't give up its nuclear program. It'll thumb its nose at sanctions. This belief is held by people who know a lot about the situation.

There's great concern about Iran's nuclear program because of the possibility that Iran could give The Bomb to, say, Hezbollah, to maintain deniability when Hezbollah takes out a chunk of Israel. For this reason a possible military action against Iran wouldn't necessarily be an invasion (with whose army? our military is stretched thin), but rather air-strikes against suspected nuclear facilities.

This would almost certainly rally the Iranian populace behind the government; hardly a positive outcome for an administration that wants to sow the seeds of democracy blah blah blah. There are no good options.

The only mitigating factor in all this is that Iran is thought to be some years away from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

#107 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 04:43 PM:

mary (#106) wrote:

because of the possibility that Iran could give The Bomb to, say, Hezbollah, to maintain deniability when Hezbollah takes out a chunk of Israel.

I doubt that many people would be fooled by that. The list of places where Hezbollah could get a nuke is rather short...even if Pervez Musharraf gets replaced by some sort of theocracy, Pakistan is still majority Sunni, and it seems to me unlikely that they'd give weapons like that to a Shi'ite group.

The biggest reason I don't trust the alarmist rhetoric about Iran having nukes is that I remember similar things being said about the Soviets, Back In The Day--and, in some cases, by the same sorts of people. IIRC, it was Rapturist nutbar Hal Lindsey* who claimed that if the USSR believed that they would survive a nuclear exchange with the US with only 50% total casualties (out of their civilian population), they'd launch on the spot. Because they were Evil, and Didn't Think Like Us.

Now, of course, the Soviets are held up as shining examples of rationality in opposition. Not like those brown people--you know, the ones who are Evil, and Don't Think Like Us.

JBWoodford

*I also have an errant memory from the early 80's, of hearing Jerry Falwell claim that the Soviet Union had Trek-style transporter technology, and would beam the Red Army right into Washington, DC.

#108 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 06:04 PM:

JBWoodford: "I doubt that many people would be fooled by that."

Not for long, anyway. Hezbollah's other option would be to obtain weapons-grade fissile material (by theft or purchase) and build a crude nuke themselves; there's enough information on the internet to build one if they ever get hold of the material. It would take a while to determine whether the nuke was a do-it-yourself job or a gift from Iran, but it wouldn't take long.

#109 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 07:22 PM:

PJ Evans (#85): Permission to call him a marron?

Marron?
Tasty, yes, but they can be noxious — In the Australian State of Victoria, "possession of, or involvement with live marron (Cherax tenuimanus) is illegal, except with the written permission of the Minister."
(Referred to here earlier.)

#110 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 09:27 PM:

Has there ever been a case when a nuclear power has given (or sold) nukes to another power? Russia put nukes on Cuban and Egyptian soil, but like American nukes in Europe during the cold war, they remained under the control of the owning power.

It seems to me that you'd have to be pretty sure of your control of a terrorist group to give them a nuke, otherwise there's no telling what will happen to it. They might trade it to AQ in exchange for something more useful, use it on one of their enemies rather than one of yours, get it stolen off them by a rival terrorist group, they might tinker with it and cause a squib reaction, or set it off prematurely... the possibilities are guaranteed to give a spymaster nightmares.

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2006, 10:16 PM:

NelC: You're assuming that the nuke would be permanently under the control of somebody who (a) thinks and (b) remembers history. Do you really expect \everybody/ in Iran to be better than our current triumvirate?

#112 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2006, 09:30 AM:

No, it's more that I'm assuming that the average Iranian government official is equivalent in psychological profile to the average other-nuclear-power-ian of the last sixty years.

I think there's something going on in the minds of those who have nukes that prevents them from handing them over to other people. Perhaps it's no more than nuclear weapons being the ultimate fetish of power. Does a wizard lend out his staff? A witch-doctor his mask?

#113 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Mary - I think it's widely acknowledged that the difficult part of nuclear weapons is the fissile material. It's been pointed out before that this is 1940s technology, and Pakistan and North Korea are not technological powerhouses. Iran is about ten years away from fissile material, and I am profoundly skeptical about the motivation for nation-states to give away nuclear weapons.

The problem with the "if someone gave them a bomb, they would have a bomb" formulation is that it can apply to any nation, group, cult, or knitting club.

Playing the odds would seem to indicate that North Korea or Pakistan are more likely places for nuclear weapons to be sold or used in desperation, and the former Soviet Union is still a likely source for loose fissile material. Iran is a sideshow, like Iraq before it.

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2006, 08:55 AM:

NelC: psychonalyzing people from a distance is a very chancy business -- not to mention the counterexample of the Pakistani scientist who sold bomb tech to other countries; the \rulers/ of nuclear-capable country X might not hand out their prize, but they won't have personal control of it.

#115 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2006, 09:57 AM:

Ummmm... CHip: right guy, wrong time period. The official story about the end of A.Q. Khan's career is indeed that he sold nuclear technology all on his own. But that's widely regarded as a bit of street theater put on by Musharraf to conceal his own involvement.

The beginning of Khan's career is more apropos --- he got his start by reimplementing uranium enrichment technology that he'd learned as a physicist in the employ of a European nuclear-fuel consortium...

#116 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2006, 11:54 AM:

On the contrary, I'm trying not to psycho-analyse. I'm trying to treat nuke-owners as black boxes with observable behaviours*, one of which is that so far, they've been extremely reluctant to let others play with their atomic toys. That being so, how afraid of nuclear terrorism should we be?

In a few years time Iran may have a Bomb. At that point, how likely is it that they are going to hand one over to a terrorist group? I don't think the chances are very high myself, Khan and Musharref notwithstanding.


*Saying that, I am a human being, and that does tend to lead into using my theory of mind to get inside other human beings' heads, even when I'm trying not to.

#117 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2006, 07:09 PM:

NelC--you're right, no country has ever given a nuclear weapon away, as yet. This is considered to be a new type of threat, based on ideology. I'm not stating an opinion of my own here, I'm reiterating what I've heard said by people who study nuclear proliferation issues for a living. The possibility that Iran could supply Hezbollah with a nuclear weapon, albeit some years in the future (I think 10 years is the optimistic assumption) is on the radar. That's not to say they're advising the Bush administration to bomb Iran--that would be a less securely hinged group of folks.

FungiFromYuggoth is right to identify Russia as a likely source of loose fissile material. The most poorly-guarded stuff is there, and the greatest threat is assumed to be from insiders.

#118 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2006, 09:28 PM:

NelC: The existing model is not one black box but several, and assuming they are all alike is unsound; the behaviors of superpowers (US, USSR) and of one-time or lesser powers (Britain, France) aren't a good model for the behaviors of wanna-be's. China as a wanna-be \might/ be a model, but they're generally very conservative about force outside their own borders.

#119 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2006, 10:14 PM:

CHip, I'm trying to manage my personal level of terror here, and you're not helping. Should I be any more scared of Iran with a Bomb than I am of Russia, China, Israel, South Africa, et al? If so, then why? You say the black boxes are disimilar, though they're all producing the same behaviour: none of them have passed a nuke to a non-state actor. Is Iran's anti-West rhetoric actually any worse than, say, Kruschev's? The Soviet Union's rhetoric was as ideologically driven as anything we've heard from Iran.

It's a possibility, certainly, but it's one that's at least ten years away, and may never happen. As such, we don't have to panic about it, whatever headlines appear in the media. Ten years is a long time to find solutions that are a bit more subtle than, "Nice country. Shame if something should happen to it."

#120 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2006, 11:30 AM:

NelC-- As far as managing your terror goes, maybe this will help. China benefits so much from having the US as a market for its goods that you needn't lose any sleep over their nuclear capability. Russia has secured more than 80% of their nuclear sites and is expected to have them all secure by 2008. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons program when it signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Israel is an ally, as is Pakistan. We have an agreement with India, and they have a "no first use" doctrine anyway.

Iran probably wants nuclear weapons capability as a deterrent against the US, not so they can nuke Israel, wild-eyed rhetoric aside. North Korea is an old problem: their reactor in Yongbyon opened in 1979. They'll leverage their nuclear capability to get assurances of security and financial assistance from the rest of the world.

There are still matters of concern, though--the stability of the government in Pakistan being one. But for the time being, be more afraid of mother nature than of a nuclear holocaust.

#121 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2006, 02:11 PM:

CHip (#118): Iran has also historically been conservative with the use of force outside its borders. They're also run by something that looks from the outside an awful lot like the Politburo: an entrenched group of mostly old men who've been in charge of things for a long time. It's been 27 years since the Shah was ousted, and they aren't revolutionaries any more. I don't see them taking insane risks like passing out nukes to terrorists unless they're backed into a corner.

mary (#120) wrote:
China benefits so much from having the US as a market for its goods that you needn't lose any sleep over their nuclear capability.

Similar things have been suggested before; see, e.g. Kipling. Note, though, that he wrote that in 1903; one might presume that later events changed his opinions.

JBWoodford

#122 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2006, 03:24 PM:

Hey, I'm trying to be comforting here. ;)

#123 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 02:28 PM:

I was looking for some juicy RummyLinks and noticed that http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/08/29/rumsfeld.ap/index.html from the original post is no longer available at all on cnn.com. How odd.

#124 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Finally found a couple of different versions based on the original Associated Press report on the speech, and also a link to the speech itself. Still not sure why CNN vaporized its version of the article. It's not on the Internet Wayback Machine, either.

Rumsfeld: Iraq critics morally confused
Rumsfeld says threat to U.S. is from 'a new type of fascism'
Address at the 88th Annual American Legion National Convention

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